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Subject: Harry Ferguson

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Steve Dabrowski    Posted 11-26-2019 at 13:56:42 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Harry Ferguson
  • My friend Tim Daly posted a pretty good write-up on the N series tractor evolution in October (see History). I disagree somewhat not considering Ferguson the inventor of the three point. I believe he should be considered so even though, as Tim notes, it was the others that really engineered the final product. Ferguson came up with the vision over a number of years and always had the final say on the design of that piece, just as many inventors do.

    Apart from this I think a lot of Ferguson's contributions are overlooked by U.S. historians. Keep in mind it was he, helped largely by Roger Kyes, who joined the Ferguson company in 1939 from Empire Plow that established the entire dealer network that sold the tractors. A major one that probably saved the tractor was his intervention with Congress and the President of the United States in 1942 to obtain steel allotments for the 2N. Immediately after war was declared in December 1941,steel production was allocated away from the tractor production for all manufacturers-thus ending tractor production in any volume.

    Henry Ford and Edsel had no interest in dealing with the government on this as they had bigger fish in retooling for tanks, jeeps and a factory for B24's in 1942. Ferguson was facing the end of his business and he and Kyes went to work. Kyes came up with eliminating the electrical system and also began searching the country for old Fordsons and second rate steel ingots from producers to melt down and use for the tractors. Harry Ferguson went right to the top first lobbying and then demonstrating the 9N to the Senate Investigative Commitee led by Harry Truman and Henry Wallace, then Vice President. Both were impressed and arrange a demonstration for FDR at Hyde Park. This was a real success as Ferguson put on his best to convinse the President of the benefit to mankind the tractor represented. Roosevelt was convinced and directed that the Ford tractors be allotted steel to maintain a high production for the duration of the war and he himself ordered one along with implements for use at his Hyde Park estate.

    Without that action the 2N might well have passed into history in early 1942.

    Tim Daley(MI)    Posted 11-27-2019 at 06:59:53 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Harry Ferguson
  • Yes, all true Steve. Henry George "Harry" Ferguson was determined to improve farming the same way Henry Ford was. Ferguson had been attempting ways to improve plowing since his EROS Plow days with the Model T. His Duplex Hitch Plow was getting closer but it took the Ferguson-Brown unit to achieve a working 3-pt. My statement that he was not the inventor of the 3-pt; it was his team of Willie Sands and Archie Greer, is written about in several books (Fraser, Sorensen, Brock) on Ferguson, not just my opinion. When Sands invented the suction side pump valve, Ferguson rejected the idea at first mainly because he didn’t fully understand the workings of the unit. Charles Sorensen wrote in his memoirs, “…Ferguson was a machinery salesman when we met; had I been able to foresee the consequences of that meeting I would have avoided it”. Sorensen went on to say, “…he could sell you the birds out of the trees”. Now, Harry had the ideas and determination, but his team provided the technology and did all of the grunt work. Ferguson took credit for many of the 9N patents because Ford didn't believe in patents and hated lawyers. Both Sorensen and Harold Brock say in their books that Ferguson was shrewd and devious. Ferguson tried to take credit for a few 9N parts that Brock had actually designed and created. You wouldn't expect Ford or Ferguson to have actually singed any blueprints. They were CEO's and paid designers and engineers to do all that. 12 sets of 10 volumes each were made for all the lawyers involved in the Ferguson vs. Ford filed in January, 1948. The Machine Analysis Ford Tractor Production 1939 - 1950 volumes have detailed lists with copies of many of the 9N and 2N drawings with the actual step by step machining functions they performed. I own the complete set, Copy #7, that Dan mentions. The purpose of those lawsuit volumes was to fortify and demonstrate that Ford owned production rights for the 9N. Ferguson had merely copied the 9N for his own TE20 & TO20 tractor models, had been shopping around since 1942 for his own builder with a set of 9N prints heck he even copied many of the Ford part numbers minus the ‘9N’ prefix. Harry did modify his models to have an OHV engine, flip up hood, and 4-speed transmission –things he wanted on the 9N but was denied. These actually were better designs and sometimes I think Brock & Crew denied these things just to spite Ferguson as NOBODY liked him. The lawsuit lasted until 1952 and was settled out of court as Ferguson settled for 1/10th of his original suit asking cost. By then Ford had designed a better pump system and introduced it with the NAA anyway. Ferguson and Ford were alike in many ways, even looking like and often mistaken for brothers. One thing is certain; neither could accomplish what they did without the other. The 9N Ford-Ferguson was beneficial to both men. Ford didn’t need the money and wasn’t never in it for the money on any of his projects. Ferguson did need the money –he had invested practically his last dime in 1938 to demonstrate to Ford the 3-point system. The ‘handshake agreement’ was one of the most unusual business proposals ever comprised and lawyers have seen to it that it will never happen again.

    Tim Daley(MI)

    David D. SMITH    Posted 11-27-2019 at 08:29:09 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Harry Ferguson
  • Tim, When they machine bearing caps etc. What do the usually leave for oil clearance?
    I thought they figured one and a half thousands for clearance.
    Dave <*)))><

    Tim Daley(MI)    Posted 11-28-2019 at 07:35:58 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Harry Ferguson
  • Will get into that Dave.

    Tim Daley(MI)

    TheOldHokie    Posted 11-26-2019 at 20:30:21 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Harry Ferguson
  • I dont think this is even remotely in question. Harry Ferguson filed the first patent for the 3pt hitch with draft control concept in 1920 - long before Ford was in the picture. Two decades later Ford in partnership with Ferguson helped refine the mechanism and make it work better but the foundational alplication of physics came from Ferguson's brain.


    Farmer Dan    Posted 11-26-2019 at 16:29:42 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Harry Ferguson
  • I believe you are correct Steve. Ford was always trying to improve the tractor while Ferguson was always trying to improve his profit margin. Both had plenty of good visions and both had a small team of engineers to make those visions come true. I have plenty of blue prints, drawings and such and none of them where penned by Harry or Henry. That tells me Harry came up with the idea of the 3point hitch and a small herd of engineers made it happen.

    As to war time production. I'll let that alone and say only that the Army, Air Force and Navy (to name a few) used Ford tractors and tugs during the war. Maybe that is why they were allowed to continue production.

    TheOldHokie    Posted 11-27-2019 at 14:40:38 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Harry Ferguson
  • I have plenty of blue prints, drawings and such and none of them where penned by Harry or Henry.

    This is a silly argument and has nothing to do with the matter of who invented the 3pt hitch with constant draft control. Those are manufacturing blueprints produced by Ford/Dearborn draftsmen and meant for use on the factory floor. The only names that would normally be on such prints are the draftsmen's initials as well as the approving supervisors/engineers. They are manufacturing documents not "invention" documents.

    On the other hand consider these two drawings which accompanied Ferguson's original 1920 patent application. Whether or not Harry actually "penned" the drawings may be in doubt but the name of the inventor submitting them and claiming the new and novel invention is crystal clear and prominantly displayed on the drawings. You can read the full patent application and Ferguson's assertion that he is the inventor along with a description of the theory and functioning of the mechanism here:

    Patent Application US1464130A - Dec 15, 1920

    This all began in 1920 long before Ford was invovled in any way shape or form. By the time Ford got involved (1938) Ferguson had already patented a number of modifications/improvements to the original mechanism including the use of a hydraulic pump and cylinder for raising/lowering the hitch. Harry Ferguson and his team, not Ford or Fords engineering and manufacturing department, invented and prototyped the first hydraulic 3pt hitch with constant draft control. In 1938 Henry Ford contracted to design and manufacture a tractor for Ferguson incorporating that invention and agreed to give Ferguson control of much of that design and manufacturing process.


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